JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia may not have won the special-teams aspect in Saturday's 17-9 upset of Florida, but the Bulldogs didn't lose it, either.
Playing the Gators to a draw in the kicking game aided Georgia, which has been inconsistent in football's third phase all season. Florida never had a lengthy kickoff or punt return, and Georgia freshman punter Collin Barber held his own against Florida's Kyle Christy, who entered the game leading the nation.
"I'm very competitive, and when somebody says someone is better than me, I want to prove them wrong," said Barber, who was punting for Cartersville High School this time last year. "I have to admit I was a little nervous out there, though. I'm not going to lie."
Barber punted five times, dropping two inside Florida's 15-yard line and having a long of 48.
Florida's Caleb Sturgis made all three of his field-goal attempts, while Georgia's Marshall Morgan was 1-of-2. The Gators had one punt return for minus-1 yard and had four kickoff returns for a harmless 21-yard average.
"I thought our kickoff coverage was outstanding overall," Georgia coach Mark Richt said, "and I thought Collin Barber played his best game."
Yellow on ground
The Bulldogs were flagged a whopping 14 times for 132 yards Saturday, shattering the previous season-high of 79 at Missouri. Georgia's season high in penalty yards last year was 89 at Vanderbilt.
"You've got to play when the ball is snapped to the whistle, and then that's it," Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "You've got to have enough discipline to walk off the field, because in a game like this with two really good defenses, it becomes a physical game where yards are important, and you really don't want to give somebody a 15-yard penalty.
"At the end of the game, their penalties allowed us to finish the game off."
The Gators were flagged 10 times for 95 yards, with 45 of their yards in the fourth quarter.
Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley was among the first in the press box Saturday, taking interest in watching son Derek's Tennessee Volunteers and their game at South Carolina. When Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was stripped and fumbled at South Carolina's 19-yard line with 1:08 remaining, Dooley turned away from the TV and said, "He just can't catch a break, can he?"
Dooley is well aware of the criticism facing Derek, who is 14-19 in his third season with 12 losses in his last 13 SEC contests.
"He needs to win some games," Dooley said, "and I think a real key will be the Vanderbilt game. Vanderbilt is pretty good."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs improved to 51-5 under Richt when they have a 100-yard rusher (Todd Gurley had 118 yards on 27 carries). ... Bacarri Rambo's interception to end the first half was the 14th of his career, moving him into a tie for second in school history and two behind the 16 Jake Scott compiled in the 1967-68 seasons. ... Junior fullback Zander Ogletree got his first touch of the season on a 10-yard reception on Georgia's opening drive. ... Sophomore tackle Watts Dantzler from Dalton was not listed on Saturday's 70-player travel roster.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...